State Rep. Dr. John Bizon today praised his colleagues in the House for voting unanimously in support of his legislation helping troubled young people who complete the Michigan Youth ChalleNGe Academy gain a fresh start.
The Michigan Youth ChalleNGe Academy, located at Fort Custer in Battle Creek, is a 22-week residential program operated by the National Guard that offers youth ages 16 to 18 the opportunity to change their lives in a military-style structured and disciplined environment.
Bizon, of Battle Creek, said his bill simplifies the process graduates of the program use to have their juvenile court convictions set aside.
“Teens with troubled pasts who complete the rigorous program at the Youth ChalleNGe Academy deserve a chance to clear their records,” Bizon said. “These reformed young people should get an opportunity to lead successful lives without their past mistakes holding them back.”
Under Bizon’s bill, graduates would receive a certificate to present to the court as evidence that their improved circumstances and behavior could warrant having certain juvenile convictions cleared from their records. Individuals with felony convictions are not eligible, and judges will continue to have discretion in determining whether setting aside a conviction is in the best interest of the public.
“The success of the Youth ChalleNGe Academy in turning around young offenders deserves recognition,” Bizon said. “I’m continually amazed by the transformations that occur in these kids, and I know judges will be pleased as well.”
Youth ChalleNGe Academy Col. Jeff Connell and Cadet Dakota Price joined Bizon last week to testify in support of the bill before the House Judiciary Committee.
“Halfway through the program I have changed tremendously,” Cadet Price said, noting his confidence has increased and he has become more disciplined. “It has changed the way I think and what I want to do with my life.”
House Bill 4768 advances to the Senate for consideration.